14 Blades

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14 Blades
Film poster
Traditional 錦衣衛
Simplified 锦衣卫
Mandarin Jǐnyīwèi
Cantonese Gam2-ji1-wai6
Directed by Daniel Lee
Produced by Wang Tianyun
Susanna Tsang
Written by Daniel Lee
Abe Kwong
Zhao Wei
Wu Chun
Kate Tsui
Qi Yuwu
Music by Henry Lai
Cinematography Tony Cheung
Sunny Tsang
Edited by Cheung Ka-fai
Tang Man-to
Shanghai Film Group
Visualizer Film Productions
Distributed by Arclight Films
Easternlight Films
Release dates
  • 4 February 2010 (2010-02-04) (China)
  • 11 February 2010 (2010-02-11) (Hong Kong)
Running time 114 minutes
Country Hong Kong
Language Mandarin[1]
Budget HK$20 million[1]
Box office US$3,786,517[2]

14 Blades is a 2010 wuxia film directed by Daniel Lee, starring Donnie Yen, Zhao Wei, Wu Chun, Kate Tsui and Qi Yuwu. The film was released on 4 February 2010 in China and on 11 February 2010 in Hong Kong. It received mixed reviews with critics focusing their praise on Yen and Zhao.


During the late Ming Dynasty, the imperial court is plagued by corruption and the reigning emperor is incompetent. The Jinyiwei are the government's secret police, trained in clandestine combat since childhood. They are in charge of conducting missions to ensure peace and stability within the empire. They have the authority to prosecute anyone deemed an enemy of the state and they devote their lives and lethal prowess to serving the emperor only. The Jinyiwei chief, Jia Jingzhong, is plotting to rebel with the emperor's uncle, Prince Qing, who was exiled and had his legs cut off for an unsuccessful rebellion many years ago. Jia Jingzhong orders Qinglong, a Jinyiwei commander, to retrieve a safe box in the possession of the imperial councillor Zhao Shenyan, who is supposedly planning to revolt. Qinglong is told that the box contains proof of the councillor's treason.

However, Qinglong discovers later that he had been used, as the safebox contains the Imperial Seal, a symbol of the emperor's authority, and Jia Jingzhong wants to use it to legitimise Prince Qing's actions when the rebellion begins. Qinglong is betrayed by his fellow Jinyiwei and becomes a fugitive when Jia Jingzhong denounces him as a traitor and orders his arrest. Qinglong escapes and joins the Justice Escort Agency, where he strikes up a romantic relationship with Qiao Hua, the daughter of the agency's leader. Qinglong is determined to fulfil his loyalty to the emperor and he continues to search for evidence of Prince Qing's plot while undermining the prince's plans concurrently. He is joined by the Heaven Eagles Gang, a group of bandits led by the Judge of the Desert. Standing in Qinglong's way are Jia Jingzhong's henchmen and his former Jinyiwei fellows, as well as Prince Qing's adoptive daughter Tuotuo, a highly skilled female warrior.

The Judge of the Desert fights Tuotuo, but is killed while saving Qiao Hua. After defeating the Jinyiwei and their allies, Qinglong gives the Imperial Seal to Qiao Hua and instructs her to bring it to the authorities to alert them of Prince Qing's conspiracy. Qinglong then challenges Tuotuo to a fight to the death, in which both of them die after being pierced through by a golden sword intended for a Jinyiwei to use to commit suicide if he fails his mission.

Prince Qing kills himself before being brought to trial for his conspiracy while Qiao Hua becomes the new leader of the Justice Escort Agency.



14 Blades was scheduled to start filming on 14 May 2009 in Ningxia, China.[1][4] Donnie Yen stated that he took the role of a villain in the film as he "wanted to tackle the role of a villain who discovers his humanity."[5]


14 Blades premiered in China and Singapore on 4 February 2010 and in Hong Kong on 11 February.[3] The film premiered at the seventh place in the Hong Kong box office, grossing US$317,975 in its first week. It grossed a total of US$984,711 at the Hong Kong box office.[6] The film was successful in Singapore where it was first in the box office on its second week, grossing a total of US$1,126,692 on its theatrical run.[7] The film grossed a total of US$3,676,875 worldwide.[6]


14 Blades was nominated for Best Action Choreography and Best Sound Design at the 29th Hong Kong Film Awards.[8] The China Post praised Donnie Yen's acting ability and stated that the film was generally entertaining but criticised the action scenes, saying "you never actually clearly see even one of the 14 blades. Unlike a really decent martial arts film, in which the battle scenes are well choreographed and you see the majority of the action, this film's fight scenes were only dynamic."[9]

Many reviewers also criticised the film's heavy use of technology, also indicating Kate Tsui's clothes-shedding technique. Film Business Asia gave the film a six out of ten, stating that 14 Blades has a "script that becomes increasingly incoherent and restless editing that grows more and more distracting" and that the action scenes were "largely dependant on wire-fu and CG...when [Donnie] Yen is allowed to show his skills properly...14 Blades starts to look like the film it could have been."[3]

Variety called 14 Blades an "above-average martial-arts actioner that reinforces Donnie Yen's "Man with No Name" ambience.", "Despite the circumstances, Qiao Hua falls in love with her captor, a development made believable by Zhao's warm and affecting perf. [sic] Yen's Eastwood-like poise is used to good effect here, and the romantic tension keeps the narrative effectively taut between the battle sequences."[10]

The Hollywood Reporter wrote that the film "would have ended a mediocre film if not for the inventively designed and utilized weaponry (especially the titular 14 blades with different functions)" and had mixed reaction to the acting in the film, asserting that Donnie Yen's "stiff and steely demeanor actually works to his role's favor. The love interest with Qiao Hua is lame, especially with Zhao sleepwalking through another typecast role as playful, tomboyish heroine."[11]

Awards and nominations[edit]

17th Beijing Student Film Festival
4th China (Ningbo) Famers Film Festival
29th Hong Kong Film Awards
  • Nominated: Best Action Choreography (Guk Hin-chiu)
  • Nominated: Best Sound Design (Ken Wong and Phyllis Cheng)
19th Shanghai Film Critics Awards


  1. ^ a b c Frater, Patrick (12 May 2009). "Donnie Yen in for Bond-esque actioner". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 30 September 2010. 
  2. ^ http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/intl/?page=&id=_fGAMYEEWAI14BLAD01
  3. ^ a b c Elley, Derek (12 May 2010). "14 Blades (錦衣衛)". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 30 September 2010. 
  4. ^ Shackleton, Liz. "Easternlight cuts deals on 14 Blades". Screen Daily. Archived from the original on 18 February 2010. Retrieved 30 September 2010. 
  5. ^ "Yen enjoyed playing villain". Hollywood Reporter. 10 November 2009. Retrieved 30 September 2010. 
  6. ^ a b "Gam yee wai (14 Blades) (2010)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 30 September 2010. 
  7. ^ "Gam yee wai (14 Blades) (2010)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 30 September 2010. 
  8. ^ "Hong Kong Film Awards". Hong Kong Film Awards. Archived from the original on 21 September 2010. Retrieved 30 September 2010. 
  9. ^ Topley, James (5 February 2010). "14 Blades 錦衣衛". China Post. Retrieved 30 September 2010. 
  10. ^ Edwards, Russell (1 April 2010). "14 Blades review". Variety. Retrieved 30 September 2010. 
  11. ^ Lee, Maggie (22 March 2010). "14 Blades – Film Review". Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 29 September 2010. Retrieved 30 September 2010. 
  12. ^ Tian, Wanting (9 May 2010). "Wei Zhao won her third Favorite Actress". Baidu. Retrieved 1 November 2010. [dead link]
  13. ^ 第四届农民电影节闭幕 唐国强赵薇是农民最喜爱的演员 Ningbo Daily 16 July 2011
  14. ^ "Wei Zhao crowned Shanghai Film Critics Award for Best Actress". Chinafilm.com. 18 June 2010. Archived from the original on 26 October 2010. Retrieved 1 November 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

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